Iclusig (ponatinib)

Generic name: ponatinib (poe NA ti nib)
Brand name: Iclusig
Drug class: BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors, Multikinase inhibitors, VEGF / VEGFR inhibitors

Iclusig (ponatinib) is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth of some cancer cells.

Iclusig is used in adults to treat a type of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), or Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Iclusig is usually given after other similar medications have been tried without success.


Iclusig may cause heart or blood vessel problems that could lead to heart attack, stroke, or death.

Call your doctor or get emergency medical help if you have: chest pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, shortness of breath, dizziness, severe stomach pain, swelling in your legs, sudden numbness or weakness, headache, or problems with vision or speech.

Iclusig may also harm your liver. Call your doctor right away if you have upper stomach pain with loss of appetite, dark urine, bruising, or yellowing of your skin or eyes.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Iclusig if you are allergic to ponatinib.

To make sure Iclusig is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • heart failure, high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems;
  • long QT syndrome (in you or a family member);
  • a stroke or blood clot;
  • diabetes;
  • high cholesterol;
  • liver disease;
  • bleeding problems;
  • lactose intolerance (tablets may contain lactose);
  • pancreatitis; or
  • if you've had surgery within the past 2 weeks.

You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment.

Ponatinib may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 3 weeks after your last dose.

This medicine may affect fertility (ability to have children) in women. However, it is important to use birth control to prevent pregnancy because Iclusig can harm an unborn baby.

You should not breastfeed while using Iclusig and for at least 6 days after your last dose.

How should I take Iclusig?

Take Iclusig exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose.

Iclusig is usually taken once daily, with or without food.

Swallow the tablet whole and do not crush, chew, or break it.

You may need frequent medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Iclusig. You may need to stop using the medicine at least 1 week before a surgery.

Do not stop taking Iclusig or change your medication dose without your doctor's advice.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia:

Initial Dose: 45 mg orally once a day

Comments: The optimal dose has not been identified. The starting dose in clinical trials was 45 mg once a day; however, 68% of phase 2 trial patients required dose reductions to 30 mg or 15 mg once a day.

Uses: Treatment of:
-Chronic phase (CP), accelerated phase (AP), or blast phase (BP) chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) or Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL) for whom no other tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy is indicated.
-T315I-positive CP/AP/BP CML or T315I-Ph+ ALL

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What to avoid

Grapefruit may interact with ponatinib and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products.

Iclusig side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Iclusig: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Iclusig may cause heart or blood vessel problems that could lead to heart attack or stroke. Call your doctor right away or get emergency medical help if you have:

  • heart attack symptoms - chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, feeling short of breath;
  • signs of a stroke - sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance; or
  • signs of a blood clot - severe stomach pain, pain or swelling in your arms or legs, coughing up blood.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • dizziness, confusion, headache, change in mental status;
  • a seizure;
  • swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath;
  • a wound that will not heal;
  • eye problems - vision problems, eye pain or swelling, bleeding in the eye, increased sensitivity to light, flashes of light or "floaters" in your vision;
  • heart problems - chest pain, shortness of breath, fast or pounding heartbeats, feeling like you might pass out;
  • a hole or tear in your stomach or intestine - severe pain or swelling in your stomach with a high fever;
  • low blood cell counts - fever, chills, tiredness, mouth sores, skin sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet;
  • nerve problems - muscle weakness, trouble moving your eyes or other parts of your face, tingling, burning pain, numbness in your hands and feet;
  • severe bleeding - nosebleeds, bloody or tarry stools, pink or brown urine, heavy menstrual periods, coughing up blood or vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds; or
  • signs of liver or pancreas problems - loss of appetite, upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), nausea or vomiting, fast heart rate, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Common Iclusig side effects include:

  • dry skin, rash;
  • stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation;
  • headache, muscle or joint pain;
  • pain in your arms, hands, legs, or feet;
  • increased blood pressure; or
  • fever, tired feeling.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Iclusig?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Many drugs can interact with ponatinib. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.